Dear Ivy: I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY LIFE!!
Updated: Jun 5, 2021
My child is starting high school in September and has no idea what to do for their career. Nothing seems to be particularly interesting to them and there is a lot of pressure to find a career. I want to help them out, but I don’t know what to do or how to encourage them.
- Concerned Mom
It is amazing how deeply you care for your child’s future! I love hearing that you want to support them and find something that works for them. Finding a career path is not easy and it is not straightforward. Everyone needs to find something that makes them happy and something that is long-lasting. They should be committed and passionate about whatever it is they want to do. Sometimes, that takes time.
Starting high school is a very big event in your kid’s life and its normal to have concerns about their future! But starting high school is just the beginning. Some kids have it figured out what they want to do, some kids don’t. Some kids play around with different ideas, and some have absolutely no worries as to what they should do. No way is the right way, and no way is the wrong way to look at this! I have changed my career choice way too many times to count. What I wanted to do in elementary school was completely different than what I wanted to do in grade 9, and all throughout high school I thought about changing my career choice many times. That goes to say that nothing is permanent! It may be difficult to not know, but it’s also not the end of the world! The important thing is to find something that is interesting and highlights the strength of the kid.
The best thing for a high school student to do when they are unsure is to find things that spark some interest and pursue them. For example, if you like literature don’t just read Game of Thrones, dip your toes into some of the classics. If you like physics at school, try reading some of the made for mainstream audience physics-oriented books like some physics philosophy for example. Push yourself in your interests. If you love cooking mac and cheese, try making a lasagna. There are many ways to do things, and experience things. Some of them will get left behind so it is important to focus on your interests and resist the need to make everything your special interest. When you take on some the challenges with your interests, you build accomplishments and it’s always good to have some of those – no matter what the accomplishment may be.
I would suggest joining some extra-curricular activities. These can be in the school setting or even within the community. By exploring avenues beyond school courses, you can get a better picture as to the different career types in the world. In school there is a strong and hard focus on the careers that require a lot of academia, however those are not the only careers out there. By being involved in your academics and the community, you can become more and more exposed to different career paths, and something will eventually spark some interest!
It is important to not let choosing a career path become the focus of your life. Your career should be something you enjoy and not something you dread. It may take some time to find your footing, but it is a journey only you can take. There shouldn’t be a rush to choose a career. Sometimes you figure out what you want to do when you’re 12 and sometimes you figure out what you want to do in university (like me!). All I’m trying to say is that it is okay to not know what to do in terms of your career, especially at a young age. The best thing for you to do is support your kid during this time by reinforcing their interests and encouraging them to pursue different avenues. You know their strengths and weaknesses and so do they! Work together to find some ideas that you might want to try out.
There is beauty in trying to discover yourself in the journey through life. The discovery process is a personal one and everyone should decide their course in their life.